Being a primary caregiver for a senior family member is a significant commitment. The responsibilities of caregiving can impact your finances, relationships, and even your health — or it may just be too challenging physically or emotionally. If you have been taking care of a loved one but believe that the best solution is to move them to memory care, it is important to be kind to yourself. You are not being selfish or unkind – you just need a respite from the overwhelming day-to-day responsibilities of caregiving. In some cases, the individual requires a level of care a family member is not trained to provide.
When you’ve decided that you can no longer act as your parent’s primary caregiver, discussing next steps with the rest of the family can be difficult. Feelings of sadness and guilt can further exacerbate the decision. However, everyone has limits on what they are able to do, and when someone has given their best effort and can’t continue, they should not be made to feel guilty. Being a caregiver requires significant sacrifice.
Tips on Approaching the Caregiving Conversation
- Think About How Others Will Be Affected: The decision to no longer be the primary caregiver for an elderly parent will probably result in major changes for other family members as well. They may disagree with your decision and worry that they’ll now have the responsibility of day-to-day care. Most people like the idea of keeping an elderly parent at home but do not realize the dedication and time it requires. Every family has different dynamics, but any type of change is usually hard for everyone involved in the beginning stages.
- Stay Focused on the Goal: Remember that the focus of these conversations needs to be the needs of the parent – and not turn into a battle blaming other siblings or harboring animosity from any family history. This is an opportunity for the family to work together to find a solution best for someone you all love.
- Communicate with Kindness and Compassion: When you have a conversation about how the situation needs to change, the language you use is important. Make sure the rest of the family understands that the conversation is not an ultimatum or meant to force anyone to do anything they are not ready to. Using phrases such as “I need your help figuring out a solution” or “Do you have any ideas?” may keep the conversation from getting overheated. Rather than arguing, make sure family members know that you’ve done the best you can.Some families find that hiring a trained neutral third party to manage or attend the meeting makes the conversations much more productive. The Southwest Florida Area Agency on Aging may be able to recommend resources, therapists, or mediators to help facilitate your discussion.
- Don’t Deny Authentic Feelings or Emotions: It is easy to think that others in your family are angry at you or blaming you for their change of circumstance. It is even easier to feel that you failed in your mission or that you are letting the family down. But now is not a time for criticism. Be kind to yourself and show yourself compassion. While feelings of exhaustion, inadequacy, or resentment are common in these situations, it is important to set boundaries and acknowledge that your feelings are valid.
It may also help to speak with area memory care centers to have the information you need before presenting that solution to your family.
At A Banyan Residence, we are happy to meet with families to discuss our facilities, services, and care for your loved one.